Lakhs of women in Kerala came forward in a show of solidarity to form the 620 km-long “women’s wall” on Tuesday, sending out a powerful message about gender equality and Renaissance values.

The Vanitha Mathil (“women’s wall” in Malayalam) stretched from the capital, Thiruvananthapuram to the northern district of Kasaragod. Videos from the historic event – posted on social media – showed women joining hands to from a human chain stretching across this enormous distance.

It was an incredible and moving display of unity in the fight for gender rights. And a memorable start to a new year.

Kerala’s Left Front government, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, had called for the chain in December. It came against the backdrop of protests in the state against the Supreme Court judgment that empowered women of menstruating age to enter the Sabarimala temple, defying a norm that had kept them out.